The secret weapon of this incredible Sicilian dessert is leftover bread

Fried Sicilian Nutella bombs. Need I say more?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published May 5, 2023 5:29PM (EDT)

Nutella Bombs (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Nutella Bombs (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

As far as leftover problems go, bread is the easiest to solve. That half an avocado isn't going to improve with age, but those day-old bagels and buns are much easier to repurpose. They lend themselves to delicious bread puddings and French toasts, as well as savory breadcrumbs and croutons. As someone who's never met a carbohydrate I didn't love, I thought I knew every trick in the book for waking up old rolls. Then I met Iris — in a cookbook.

To be frank, I was lured in by the second part of the book's title. Sure, I was intrigued when I learned that Bread & Salt's acclaimed baker and pizza master Rick Easton had written, with his partner Melissa McCart, a new cookbook involving my ride-or-die favorite food. But "Bread and How to Eat It" wouldn't have won me over had it not been for the "eat it" part. I may never sustain a sourdough starter or boil the perfect pretzel, but eat? That I can do.

While "Eat It" does offer enough tantalizingly beautiful bread recipes to inspire the seasoned home baker and maybe even incentivize more reluctant ones like me, the beauty of the book is that you don't have to bake anything at all to enjoy it. You can just get something good from your favorite local bakery, then use it creatively. In fact, as Easton reassuringly writes, "This is not intended to be a baking book."

There are sandwiches, of course. However, there are also smart and simple methods for meatballs and stuffings and crunchy "fried things" and warm, nourishing soups and entrées to eat alongside them, as well as a Sicilian pastry called Iris. Think of a sweet stuffed, fried brioche — and then make it. It tastes like heaven, and it's as easy as throwing a roll in a pot of oil. Seriously.

Hungry for more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter, The Bite.

I love that Iris require no baking, no batter and only a few minutes of prep time. I love that you can make them with yesterday's bread. I love that you can effortlessly scale this recipe up or down depending on how many mouths you're feeding. And I love that you can stuff the rolls ahead of time, then fry them at the last minute for a spectacular dessert or in the morning for an easy alternative to pancakes. The only caveat is that the bread does need to be soft. (If it seems too crumbly you can brush the hollows with a little bit of milk, Easton says.)

Easton advises using bakery-made "brioche rolls or milk buns," but he does say that leftover dinner rolls, while "not ideal," can work here, too. For my version, I've gone even further afield with the supermarket classic King's Hawaiian. And because I think almost daily about the ricotta and Nutella tart I had in Salemi a few years ago, I've also shoved some chocolate hazelnut spread into the mix. Fried Sicilian Nutella bombs are absolutely as rich and addictive as something involving bread, ricotta and Nutella should be. And while they may not be artisanal, they're definitely the most chic thing that ever happened to my grocery store staple.

* * *

Inspired by "Bread and How to Eat It" by Rick Easton with Melissa McCart

Fried Sicilian Nutella Bombs (Iris)
 4 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes 
Cook Time
 5 minutes


  • 1/2 15-ounce tub ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons Nutella (or similar chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 4-pack King's Hawaiian sweet rolls (or 4 small brioche rolls)
  • 1 16-ounce bottle neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Over medium heat in a heavy pot, heat all of the oil. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a food processor or blender, if you have one, whip the ricotta, sugar, lemon and salt together until everything is smooth and fluffy. Otherwise, stir together well to blend.

  3. With a sharp knife, cut a hole in the bottom of each roll, reserving the cutout part for later. Gently pull out some more of the crumbs so that there's a nice hollow in each roll, being careful not to break them.

  4. Stuff each roll with 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and 1 tablespoon of Nutella. If it looks like it could hold a little more of either, go for it. Gently seal the rolls back up with the reserved cutout bread, but firmly enough that the cutout bread stays intact and keeps the filling inside while the Iris cooks.

  5. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Dredge each roll through the egg to thoroughly coat, then place on the sheet pan.

  6. Drop a piece of leftover bread into the oil to make sure it's hot enough. The bread should sizzle and fry up.

  7. With a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, lower the rolls into the oil, no more than two at a time.

  8. Fry, turning over as they cook, about 2 to 5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

  9. Remove from the oil and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy right away.

Cook's Notes

I have a feeling these would be equally amazing if you swapped out the Nutella for your favorite jam.

Salon Food writes about stuff we think you'll like. While our editorial team independently selected these products, Salon has affiliate partnerships, so making a purchase through our links may earn us a commission.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bread Dessert Food Fried Nutella Quick & Dirty Recipe Ricotta Sicilian